I have just arrived in Cusco, Peru after living and volunteering in Arequipa, Peru for one month. I was living with an incredible host family and volunteering in a rural school with 4 and 5 year olds. My family was extremely welcoming and fed me yummy Peruvian food every night. I had two host brothers that were 21 and 10 years old which I got to know fairly well over the month. We played games, talked about going out with friends, watched TV together, and practiced our respective languages with each other.
I volunteered with GVI (Global Vision International) for one month which consisted of one week of intensive Spanish language courses and three weeks of volunteering in the 4 and 5 year old class in one of the schools. My kids were absolutely adorable and I really wanted to bring one of them home with me because he was so cute. Some of these kids come to school to escape their lives at home. We give them positive attention, hugs, teach them classroom skills, and even play skills (these don’t come natural to them), and of course provide a warm meal for lunch. These children are so resilient. Most of them live in pretty harsh conditions which are evident when you see wind/cold burns on their faces, dirty clothes, protruding stomachs, and the fact that some of them do not know how to use a toilet.
Friday was my last day at the school and each child made me a card, gave me a hug, and thanked me for helping at their school. I hope these kids got as much out of my time with them as I got myself. I have learned so much this past month about these kids and this community and also about myself. These kids do not know that there is more out there in the world. They do not know that they can strive to learn more, finish their educations, and find a job one day because no one around them has shown them. Someone told me, “You won the lottery when you were born where you were born”. I am so grateful for the supportive family and friends that I have, the opportunities that have been presented to me, and the positive nature in which I was raised. My time in Arequipa has been unforgettable and I cannot wait to return one day and visit with my host family again.
I visited Machu Picchu yesterday and a blog post will be coming soon!